What You Need To Know About Sun Protection
Yes, keeping your skin protected from the sun will keep your skin healthy and looking younger longer but not all sun protection is created equal. Do you know what's in the sunscreen you're using? Probably not. It's important to pay attention to ingredients and learn the differences between different types of UV blockers so you can make the best choice for you and your family.
A physical sunblock or mineral sunscreen contains active ingredients that literally block the sun from affecting your skin. These ingredients are usually zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or a combination of both. Generally speaking, sunblock only comes in an SPF 30, unless the product is a mix of physical and chemical components.
Sun Protection Tip: You really don't need anything higher than an SPF 30—and some people argue that the higher the SPF, the higher the quantity of potentially harmful chemicals. It's probably best to stay away from anything higher than a 50. Remember to reapply your sunscreen often, no matter the SPF.
A sunscreen contains chemicals that are rubbed onto skin and absorb UV rays, protecting your skin from the sun. Ingredients often include avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate and oxybenzone.
Sun Protection Tip: Some experts warn against using products with oxybenzone as it may be a hormone disruptor. Definitely avoid retinyl palmitate, which may trigger sun damage and even possibly cancer.
What Is SPF?
So what does the SPF really mean. The Sun Protection Factor refers to the amount of time you can stay in the sun without burning, compared to how long it would take with no SPF. This can differ person to person. For instance, if you burn in 10 minutes, an SPF 30 would delay burning by 300 minutes or allow you to stay outside 30 times longer. BUT this isn't an exact science.
Sun Protection Tip: While avoiding a sunburn is great, as soon as your skin shows signs of a tan, you've experienced sun damage so apply, reapply and reapply again! And when not swimming, wear light clothing that covers your skin. The tighter the weave of the clothing, the higher the UPF value (or ultraviolet protection factor).
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